Translation from the book
Z Kresów Wschodnich R.P. Wspomnienia z Osad Wojskowych 1921-1940
(From: The Eastern Borderlands of Poland, Memories of Military Settlements 1921-1940)
Pub: Ognisko Rodzin Osadników Kresowych (OROK)
(Association of the Families of the Borderland Settlers)
London, UK. 1992 and 1998 (out of print)
ISBN 1 872286 33 X
Province (Województwo) WOŁYŃ
WIESŁAWA CHMURA (MISZTELA)
District (Powiat) Sarny
I am the daughter of settler Wacław Misztel. Our settlement of Sarny-Dorotycze bordered the town of Sarny. It was divided by a railway track into two groups which rarely met. The plots were granted twice: once after the war and secondly on the granting of permanent ownership around 1930. There were two types of plots. The first type of plot - 25 hectares in three sections (eight hectares of poor soil by the town, seven hectares of good sedimentary soil beyond the river Słucz a distance of two km, and marsh meadows 15 km further south). The internationally well-known peat research station on the “Czemerne marshlands” helped to collectively drain the fields and annually fertilize them to produce two or three cuts of valuable hay. The second type of plot was around seven hectares adjoining the town.
There were 30 or more plots on our settlement. I remember the following names: Wysocki, Herze, Hoffman, Wizgird, Misztela, Kołakowski, Niemczycki, the two Michalski, Kaczanowski, Zawada, Giluk, Wawrzyński, Regulski, Zielonka and Kozubski. Their military ranks were: two Captains, four Lieutenants, including one Legionnaire, and one Sergeant.
Several settlers served in the signals section of the army; my father, for example, tested the first military field telephones known as Hughes’ receivers for the English or Americans, whether they were left or not – I do not know.
Being a baby during this time, I don’t remember anything; however from past stories I know about a large rented home, in which having one room per family was a lot!
Among our settlers not many were farmers by profession. Paid employment was not often available either, therefore it must have been hard and difficult and they must have often been hungry and cold.
One of the settlers lived off the land; he was also our Sołtys [Ed. note: the elected village official] for which he received an additional small income. Others worked as different types of office workers or teachers. We had one of each of the following: a high ranking policeman who worked in military intelligence and ran the officers’ mess, and at the beginning there was apparently also a doctor. They were also those employed or engaged in technology and mechanics. There was also the cinema owner.
Between 1922-1925 there were usually three children in a family; after that, around 1930, there were on average probably only two.
There was neither a school nor a church in the settlement. During the month of May people would attend Mass at the 18th century wooden chapel in the grounds of the settlement belonging to absent owners; I believe it was the Pruszyński family.
Usually, all the children (of an appropriate age) went to secondary schools, very rarely they did not; the majority went to the state school in Sarny and a few went to the private settlers’ secondary school in Równe. Some went to schools in Warsaw or Lwów, where their fathers worked.
Religious and patriotic events were celebrated in Sarny.
With the exception of two rather ‘difficult’ families, employer-employee relations with local people were good. Here are two examples from my family’s personal experience. In the evenings after September 1939 Wańka, whose whole family worked for us, used to bring us rare and in those times precious sugar from the Peasants’ Cooperative. Under contract, hay was delivered to railway carriages for transportation to the army. This could only be done when the ground and water was frozen solid – Czemerne is probably to this day one vast marshland. In December 1939, Saprun had the opportunity to take hay for himself, when he came with several sledges as usual to our house but without supervision by my mother. Quite naturally, he turned to me, a young girl, to go with him “so that everybody would know that everything was done above board”.
All the wives of the settlers came from different and very diverse parts of Poland.
If I remember correctly, there was a local council (gmina), but this was probably just an administrative office. The ladies had a Village Housewives’ Association where they discussed the then modern soybean and its usefulness; why raise chickens and which breed; where to buy seeds for the garden and, of course, they would exchange cooking recipes, gossip, and so on.
When brothers have love for one another a knot is tied between them stronger than any other human knot. When brothers quarrel and the knot breaks, their discord is then stronger than any other.
22 May 1926 Warsaw Army Order